Mudcloth

Hope you enjoyed the weekend. I spent Saturday cooking and rolling around in bed all day. You know the feeling when you’ve been doing too much and your mind/body just need to chill ? Yup, that was me this weekend and it felt great. Painted my nails later that evening, very therapeutic.

Today’s video is on mud cloth. Share and like if you found it useful. Let me know your video suggestions as well, I’m listening.

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J’espere que vous passiez un bon weekend. J’ai passez le mien en faisant la cuisine et en paressant dans mon lit. Savez-vous le sentiment d’avoir fait trop et votre corps/espirit ne veulent que se relaxer? Si, c’était moi partout ce weekend et je me sentais absolument géniale. Plus tard, j’ai fait mes ongles, je le trouve délassant.

Je discute le tissue en boue dans le video d’aujourd’hui. Partagez et aimez-le si vous l’avez trouvé utile. Dites-moi vos suggestions, j’écoute.

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Always,

LAJA

10 Reasons I Love African Prints

I’ve loved African prints aka ankara aka wax prints for as long as I remember. I grew up with, in and around it 🙂 Why do you love African prints? I’m keeping this short and sweet. Off to do some grocery shopping. I love grocery shopping a little too much. Something about a full pantry gives me peace. Am I the only one? No? Yes? Talk to you soon !

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J’aimais les textiles africains aka les tissus d’ankara aussi longtemps que je me souviens. Ils font partir de mon éducation 🙂 Pourquoi vous les aimez? Cette poste sera concise, je suis en train de faire les courses. J’en adore un peu trop. Quelques chose d’un plein garde-manger me donne paix. Vous pensez aussi ou je suis seule? Oui? Non? À prochaine fois !

reasons-laja-loves-african-prints-3reasons-laja-loves-african-prints-6reasons-laja-loves-african-prints-7reasons-laja-loves-african-prints-9reasons-laja-loves-african-prints-10Always,

LAJA

African Print Diaries

ankara fabricThe ankara fabrics that we most popularly refer to as “African prints” were not initially intended for “Africans”. When I first found out, I thought “Oh really?😕 Oya continue.” Again, Dutch colonialists imitated Javanese batik to undercut the Indonesian fabric market. Inferior quality caused them to be rejected by local Indonesians so soldiers recruited by the Dutch to Indonesia brought home these imitation fabrics and they were widely favored.
They touched base in Ghana and have been popular ever since.

Okay, so what are you saying? That “African prints” are not really “African” since they’re not made in… wait for it, “Africa”? 😩Well, yes and no.

The oldest and arguably the largest producers of of anakra prints are by Europeans (or knock offs by Chinese convo for another day) despite the majority consumer demographic being African. It’s depressing and I felt that everything I believed in/stood for was lie. Knowing the fabrics I attached much cultural value to, that the world used to define “African” culture was dictated by and fed the economy of another was mind fucking on too many levels. The beneficiaries weren’t even native to the continent. I had a headache thinking, “nahh dis tew much” 😔😖

Okay, back up but the fancy/wax prints are African since they do reflect the diverse cultures and histories. Without the people and their stories, wax/fancy prints wouldn’t exist on the scale they do today. Industrialization/capitalism is a blessing and a curse but in as much as the culture makes the people, the people also make the culture. It is messed up that the big players in the African textile industry aren’t natives but all hope isn’t lost. Ghana produces beautiful and high quality batik fabric and there are several other fabrics that exist outside ankara fabric.

They’re just yet to be talked about.

I found myself in a dilemma because I love African prints, they’re all I care about but I was being unfair. People think it’s a trend but I believe its way more. A lifestyle.
My bio says “promoting the beauty, diversity and versatility of African prints.” While I was promoting the beauty/versatility, the diversity? Not so much. African prints are more than fancy/wax prints; mud cloth, kente, ishweshwe, adire, aso oke etc. I love photography/editorials and I’ll continue w/ those but there’s so much I have to learn about this industry, I’m passionate about. Thus, as I learn, I’ll share and I hope you’ll help me too.


Shit’s about to get real lol.😅

Always,

Miss LAJA

African Print Diaries: Caring For Wax & Fancy Print

 

african print wrap dress

african print wrap dress

Wax Prints

Wax prints can be hand-washed, machine-washed (w/ cold or warm water) or dry cleaned. There’s no need to use a garment bag but you can if you please.
Fading should be minimal because of the resin (a sticky insoluble compound) added to the fabric during production hence the name, “wax” prints.


I’ve gotten some vintage pieces from Mummy LAJA, some older than me and they still look as good as new. You can’t even tell. I think, dayumm, that’s some quality right thurr.

Fancy Prints

Fancy Prints Can Be Hand-Washed Or Machine Washed (Cold Wash On Gentle) However, Do NOT Dry Clean Them Especially If It Has Gold Colouring Or Shimmery Glitter.


If You Machine Wash, Throw It In A Garment Bag Before Putting It In. The Garment Bag Reduces Abrasion & Protects The Fabric’s Shine. Fancy Prints Do Fade If You Wash Them Too Often So Don’t Treat Them Like You Would Gym Clothings. In My Experience, I Haven’t Experienced Any Extreme Fading That I Can’t Wear Them Again (Print Quality Matters Tho). So Unless I Sweat Like Mad Or There Are Visible Stains, I Mostly Air & Fold.

I Find Hand-washing To Be The Best Method So I Recommend It. For Me, Washing Is A Punishment😥 So Thank God For Washing Machines Yass! Just Be Careful✌ How Do You Care For Your Prints?

I Find Handwashing To Be The Best Method So I Reccommend It. For Me, Washing Is A Punishment😥 So Thank God For Washing Machines Yass! Just Be Careful✌

How Do You Care For Your Prints?

Always,

Miss LAJA

African Print Diaries: Print Cloth VS Woven Cloth

 

Hand Woven Cloth

 

African fabrics have 2 distinct categories woven cloth + printed cloth. Woven cloth is woven by hand or using a loom while printed cloth has patterns printed on it. True story😯😂 Woven cloth is more time consuming so they are often available in limited quantities at high prices. Woven cloth reflects craftsmanship so the finished product is usually high quality. Pictured above is ekwa-oncha (white cloth or george), a cotton textile native to the Ika tribe. You can see the visible weave patterns. Cool stuff👽

Fancy Print Cloth

 

Printed cloth (called ankara in Nigeria) is commercial and readily available. Ease of access means quality and price vary. High quality print cloth (aka wax prints) is made using a wax resist technique that prevents fading. They are usually more expensive but readily available. Pictured above is fancy print👽

Wax Print Cloth

Fancy print cloth on the hand, is not manufactured using the wax-resist method so quality varies from shitty to excellent. Pictured above is wax print which is printed on both sides.

Always,
Miss LAJA

 

10 Facts About Bògòlanfini

I’m beginning a new series called African Print Diaries where I really share my knowledge and research about the beauty, diversity and versatility of prints. As much as I love creating editorials, I believe knowledge is power and I want LAJA to be bigger than I am. I want to educate and empower people. As I learn, I’ll share and I want to learn from you too. With that, let’s begin.

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  1. Bògòlanfini is the Bamanan translation of mud cloth. “Bogo”= mud and “Lan”= traces of…
  2. Yes, there is mud in authentic mud cloth fabric.
  3. Mud cloth is an old traditional fabric originating from Mali, West Africa. It is most famous in the city, Timbuktu.
  4. It is hand-made and hand dyed with vegetable dyes dating back to the 12th century AD.ariele_alaskochair

    Source

  5. The fabric is known for it’s earthy tones and geometric patterns.
  6. Mud cloth gained popularity in the 90s when native traders in the diaspora began exporting to the US and Europe. Foreigners were quick to embrace the luscious fabric due to a growing popularity for all things “natural” and “ethnic”.
  7. Mud cloth is used for a variety of things from clothing to home decor (pillows, bedding), CD and book covers and more.

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  8. Mud cloth is made from locally grown cotton spun onto yarn.
  9. The most popular bògòlanfini cloth has white geometric prints against a dark background.
  10. Bògòlanfini is worn by hunters to serve as camouflage, ritual protection and a symbol of status. For women, they are wrapped in the cloth after initiation into adulthood (which sometimes includes genital cutting 🙁 ) and after child bearing. It is believe the cloth has the power to absorb evil influences present under such circumstance.

I’d love to see mud cloth made first hand. LAJA loves all things hand-made so this fabric is up my alley. Looking forward to adding some to my collection!

What else you do know about mud cloth? Share in the comments below!

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SHOP My Designs: LAJA

 

Always,

Miss LAJA

Cover photo source: The Well-Appointed Catwalk

 

 

What Is Vintage Ankara?

What does “Vintage” in fashion mean?
This is any item made at least 20 years from the current day down to the 1920s. They reflect style from that period in history can run past 100 years.


“Antique” is subset of vintage used to describe items older than 100yrs (think pieces you see in museums). Yes, they are used items but due to high production quality and proper care, a lot of these pieces have stood the test of time.

Why consider vintage?
Although vintage does not guarantee stellar quality, there are numerous perks to buying vintage. 

1)      Uniqueness and Rarity: You get to own clothing and accessories that others don’t have. It could either be a unique print (guesses where I’m going?), design or trend that is no longer common. Although the clothing I feature on Miss LAJA isn’t vintage, I enjoy the feeling of know that the print-to-design combo is unique to me. You won’t find it anywhere else. How awesome is it realizing your skirt could quite possibly be the ONLY piece in the world? 

2)      High quality: A lot more attention was paid to detailing, finishing and quality. Plus, they were made in smaller quantities unlike today where technology has improved production of clothing and accessories at the unfortunate cost of quality. With vintage, you can expect your piece to build value overtime as opposed to losing value. Of course, not all vintage are in the best of shape but if you know how to filter the good from the bad, you can get some pretty sweet deals for…

3)       Lower prices: This depends strongly on the item (clothing vs handbags) and the materials used for manufacturing (silk vs satin). I am not saying vintage is cheap per se because the same rules apply when shopping for new items. A full grain leather purse and one made from PVC cannot be priced equally. Higher quality items are priced more for reasons previously explained. What I mean is you are more likely to get your money’s worth for quality items; bang for your buck as they say. It really depends on if you know where to look and what to look for in quality items

4)      Stories & Memories: Since the items are from a previous era they usually have stories or memories attached to them. You almost feel like you were a part it. It’s even better when you have the opportunity to learn the story behind it. 

5)       Eco-friendly: You’re basically recycling items overtime as opposed to using and tossing out. 

With this, I introduce to you… Vintage Ankara

I haven’t personally found the official term “vintage ankara” or “vintage African prints”. However, I had an epiphany; Mummy LAJA and Grandma LAJA are avid ankara-gurus whose wardrobes are overflowing with pieces dating back to decades. My grandma has “Georges” (white wrappers for weddings and special events) that are out of production today. I find it really interesting seeing how print designs have change overtime.  Wow, wow, wow! 

I plan on ravaging through my parents, grand-parents and so forth because I know I’ll find A LOT. Of course, I’ll be styling and sharing the items with the little stories that come with them.  Spicing up the traditional roots with a dose of modern, you know!

If you’re fortunate to have loved ones AKA from an African family, I encourage you to ask them about traditional clothings they have but no longer use. Trust me, they have a couple if not a lot.  Ask them about the stories behind them; How old are they? Where did they wear them to? Why did they keep them for so long? You’d be surprised the lovely tales clothing and accessories carry. You can get a tailor to make alterations to suit you if decide you want it for yourself.

Vintage Piece Of The Day
This wrap dress belongs to Mummy LAJA and it is at least 10 years old. Yes, it’s not up to 20 years but considering the drastic change in African fashion 10 years back, that’s a lot. I actually thought it was brand new until she mentioned otherwise. The sewing and finishing is solid and the ankara print has not faded one bit. It’s still as vibrant as ever.I couldn’t get over how it continuously flowed with the wind.

Mummy LAJA wore this dress while she was pregnant with my sister who is now 7 years old. So, this dress older than my sister! Isn’t that the cutest? 

I can’t wait to raid her wardrobe and dig up more pieces!  Woop woop! Vintage Ankara, you heard it here first!   

 What are your experiences with vintage fashion? Any interesting finds? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear them. Talk to you in a bit!

Outfit Details
Anakra Dress: Vintage
Shoes: Guess
Swarovski Crystal Earrings: Fulfill Jewelry 
Bracelet: Fulfill Jewelry

Always,
Miss LAJA

Jabulani Bellas

 
Duke’s African show was this past Tuesday and it was a blast, whirlwind and tornado of fun, excitement and high tension but my Jabulani Bellas and Beaus came out on top! Woop woop!

Honestly, this was my first time feeling the heat of life or shall I say, the beautiful chaos life behind the scenes of a fashion show especially being a stylist and model. I tied the models’ geles (mine included) and funny enough I didn’t get the pictures of all them. I think I tied for over 20 Bellas (that’s what I’m calling us). Gosh,I thought I was dreaming but my hands reminded me that this was in fact a reality, haha. I’ve never tied for that many people under such short notice. I think I grew muscles and a six pack, haha. I had to be quick, effective and make sure they all looked stunning. Diariz God o, because they all did.
My biggest fear which eventually came to pass was the geles falling apart before their due time. You see, I had to tie most of them before the fashion show which explains why most of the Bellas aren’t all dressed up in these photos. They were needed for very specific scenes and since I was the only one tieing, I didn’t want to leave it till the day of the show. Even with that, I can tell you I tied gele during and up until the end of the show.  I had to learn how to use pins to hold them together to prevent my work from falling apart so that was a new and quite darn nerve wrecking experience. Even with the high tension and pressure, I actually really, really enjoyed it. Like really, really enjoyed it. Woop woop!

I also got to select outfits Jabulani Beaus and some of the Bellas which was a lot of fun but one thing I realized about fashion shows is that it’s really not about you. I almost forgot that I was a model cause I was asking people “Do you have an outfit for this?”, “What are you wearing on your feet?”, “Have you tied your gele?”
 I had planned to get a billion pictures but since I was both styling and modelling, I had very little time to take proper pictures of my outfits for the fashion show because I was running everywhere (literally). #StylistLife. For some strange reason, my photos were not coming out right. It was rather frustrating. I definitely respect people that make up the glam squad or work BTS on any project (fashion stylists, hair stylists, makeup artists and many more), it not easy. The final presentation is a far cry from what happens underneath. I’ve come to the conclusion that BTS chaos for anything fashion is my type of chaos.
 It was a lovely experience and though my fingers died from numbness and pin pricks and my cuticles look eww, I will do it again and again and again. Till next year!
 

Always,
Miss LAJA

Sisterhood Of The Travelling Gele

I present to you (some) of the promo pictures for Duke Africa’s annual Jabulani Show. Oh ma gashhh, I’m sooo in love!


Happy New Month, loverrss! March is a special month for me because Miss LAJA, Miss LAJA (yes, I said it twice) and Daddy LAJA celebrate our birthdays and for many more reasons! It’s a countdown! Get excited!
This year’s theme for the African Exposition presented by Duke Africa is “The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Headwrap”. For this project, I was the stylist, model and photo editor and I had so much fun during the shoot! I might even be modelling in the fashion show… *wink wink*
What I’m most proud are the geles *sniffs and flicks tears*.  I’m so happy with how they turned out. My strength was put to the test, haha. The tugging and jumping was real as you know for those of you familiar with the art of tying gele.

What do you think of the photos? Hit or Miss? You already know I’m in love with them if not, I wouldn’t put them on here, haha!
Countdown to Spring Break, I cannot wait. Hold on tight, we’re almost there!
Team
Directors: Stephanie Ogwo and Ozioma Uwazurike
Photographers: Stephanie Ogwo and Kolapo Aluko
Editors: Ashan-wa Aliogo and Stephanie Ogwo
Styling: Ashan-wa Aliogo
Models: Mariel Rosario, Kolapo Aluko, Martina Tiku, Joseph Bassey, Zamantha Granados, Ashan-wa Aliogo

The Jabulani Show is 17th March 2015 in Reynold’s Theatre, Duke Univeristy from 8-10pm. Come through and have a swell time celebrating Africa and her culture!
Miss LAJA

LAJA Tips: How To Style Printed Skirts

 
Since I wear a lot of African prints, I decided to go more in-depth so I’m introducing the “How-To” series where I give my tips and tricks for styling different printed pieces. The first in the series would be the ankara skirt.

LAJA Tip 1: Neutrals
When all else fails, neutrals are your best friend. Having blouses in the basic colors like black, white, brown and cream are a necessity in every girl’s wardrobe. For printed skirts, you can use them to pull the whole look together as well as tone it down. Personally, I prefer black and white shades… Especially black as it’s very low maintenance. You know the drill, you want your top half to complement your bottom half so it’s balanced out.

 Since the bottom is loud, keep the top mild.

LAJA Tip 2: Complementary Colors
If you really think about it, prints especially African prints have made combining colors a lot easier. How? They are mixed with colors that compliment each other. You can play off the colors on the skirt and chose to make your top one of the recessive colors on the skirt. On the other hand, you can pick a color that contrasts the colors on the skirt. Either ways, use the colors on your skirt to your advantage! 

If you’re not great with color’s, peep this article for a crash course. I wasn’t born a pro but practise, practise and more practise will get you there. 

 

LAJA Tip 3: Double Trouble
In Nigeria, skirts are usually sewn with a complimentary blouse. While this requires the least thinking, you can really make a statement with your ensemble so have fun with it!
 
 What do you think of my “How-To” Series? Let me know what you’d like to see in the comments below. 

I hope these tips were helpful! Talk to you in a bit!


Always,
Miss LAJA